Pictured at the seminar in the Oakwood Hotel in Shannon (from left); Dr Eddie Murphy, Helen Downes, CEO, Shannon Chamber, Sarah O’Neill, Spectrum Health and Joe Sherlock, national corporate sales manager, laya healthcare. Photo: Eamon Ward.
While over half of Irish businesses consider stress management and mental health a priority in their workplaces, 84% do not have a wellness policy or wellness programme in place. This was one of the stark messages delivered by consultant counselling psychologist Sarah O’Neill from Spectrum Health when she addressed an audience of business people in Shannon recently.
Speaking at a seminar, organised by Shannon Chamber in conjunction with laya healthcare on the topic of mental health in the workplace, Ms O’Neill further stated that even though 94% of business leaders admit that there is a prejudice in business towards people with mental health issues, many employees do not feel they can speak candidly about such issues.
“They fear employers will label them unproductive,” she added.
Recommending that companies train their human resources team to feel confident in managing employees with mental health issues, Ms O’ Neill suggested a number of steps that would help this process such as: understanding their company’s mental health; creating the right working environment; monitoring the workplace and encouraging people to speak up if they are struggling and; recruiting mental health ambassadors.
“The stigma will remain until such time as people managers get comfortable with the topic, the terminology and their role in workplace mental health,” she added.
Co-presenter at the seminar, Dr Eddie Murphy of Operation Transformation fame, turning his attention to the individual encouraged attendees to be their true selves, always.
“It’s so easy to put up a front in the world if our real self is neglected,” he said.
“As we age, our emotions get more complex: sadness turns to depression or bipolar; fear becomes panic and anxiety and, people who are anxious feel confined.”
Encouraging attendees to learn how to say no, even in the working environment, he advised them to develop assertiveness skills.
“It’s so important to be able to say no and set boundaries around what you can physically do. This requires the ability to only get involved in things in life that give meaning and engagement. Make choices that bring values and actions together, “ he advised.
Commenting on the value of hosting an event of this nature, Shannon Chamber’s chief executive Helen Downes said: “Pressure is so much part of our everyday lives now. Learning how to handle this stress and manage the work life balance is something we can all benefit from. Both speakers imparted very insightful advice and tips on how to bring harmony into our lives and how to reach out and help others who may be struggling.”